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CHART Group Hosts Program Here On Substance Abuse

Douglas County inmate J.D. Day, along with Drug Court Administrator Jennifer Horn and Sheriff Chris Degase were among the speakers at the substance abuse program presented last Friday, hosted by CHART.

Douglas County Community Health Assistance Resources Team (C.H.A.R.T.) and InterAgency Council hosted an informative program in Ava last Friday morning on substance abuse.
About 50 people, including school administrators and county officials, but mostly just citizens of the community, attended the program that was held in the fellowship hall of the First Southern Baptist Church.
Sheriff Chris Degase opened the program and used a PowerPoint presentation to give some facts about various substances including methamphetamine, bath salts and synthetic drugs, and prescription drugs.
Associate Circuit Judge Elizabeth Bock and Circuit Judge Craig Carter also spoke, as did Douglas County Drug Court Administrator Jennifer Horn.
The presentation that got everyone’s attention was that given by J.D. Day, a Douglas County inmate who volunteered to share his story with the group. Sheriff Degase explained that Day’s participation was not part of a plea bargain agreement. In fact, he was not even asked to participate, but rather asked if he could talk to the group.
Day said he had been through Drug Court and had been “clean” for three years. Then he “used” one time and was once again addicted.
Prior to his conviction for stealing to support his habit, J.D. was among the world’s top 50 bullriders. “I was $1,000 away from being on national TV,” he told the group on Friday. They take the top 45 riders and he was No. 50.
As he became addicted to drugs, Day said his life slowly went from being all about bullriding and a little about drugs, to being all about drugs.
He said he is not proud to admit that he stole from people he knew just to support his habit.
In conversation with attendees at Friday’s meeting, Day said he wants to tell his story to kids – the younger the better – to tell them to walk away from a situation that would lead them into trying drugs.
In response to a comment about a family member who may be using drugs, J.D. said, “Don’t shut them out.” At the same time, he said, don’t give them money because they will just use it to support their habit. “Don’t encourage the habit, but don’t shut them out,” he advised.
Following Day’s presentation, Jennifer Horn said there are 64 others just like him currently in Drug Court. Although he is facing prison time now, he is a Drug Court success, she said.
He was clean for three years; he’s a repeat offender; he’s an addict. That makes him a candidate for Drug Court.
Horn explained a little about the history of Drug Court. It was started in the 1990s in Dade County, Florida when trends showed that prison was not working for drug offenders.
Douglas County initiated its Drug Court in August of 2000 and the current list of 64 clients is the most ever on the roll.
Drug Court makes its participants accountable, and the clients are rewarded for doing good.
Day said Drug Court gives people like himself an opportunity to have a relationship with good people. It provides a safety net.
Judge Bock told the group, “Drug Court people are real people.” She said the court works with clients by assigning public service projects, and have had no problems with those on public service.
She said clients have curfews and those curfews are monitored by the court.
Sheriff Degase shared examples of three Texas teens who suffered heart attacks after using synthetic drugs, and a mother in Kentucky who tried to kill her 2-year-old baby because of hallucinations from drugs.
Another woman injected bath salts into her arm. She lost the arm, her shoulder and breast tissue as a result.
Judge Carter, whose wife is an emergency room doctor, said there are antidotes for some drugs, but there is nothing that will reverse the effect of bath salts or synthetic drugs. Sometimes the symptoms can last for days.
Sheriff Degase showed pictures of homes where meth was being cooked in the kitchen, with ingredients on the kitchen table with food children were eating.
Judge Carter told of children that have been removed from homes, and because of the fumes in the house, the children had to be hospitalized for breathing problems.
Carter said there are 120 kids in foster care in the three counties he serves, mostly because of drugs.
Day mentioned more than once during the meeting on Friday that he has let his 9-year-old son down. “It’s not my son’s fault; I’ve handicapped him.”
J.D. also told the group, “Don’t under-estimate the power of prayer.” He said he has walked away from 13 wrecks that could have killed him, “but for some reason God allowed me to walk away.”
Douglas County Commissioner Leon Potter asked the question that was on everyone’s mind: ”What can we do?”
There is no easy answer to that question, however, it is generally agreed that Sudafed needs to be taken off the shelves and made a prescription-only drug. J.D. can tell you exactly how many pills one person can buy in a month, and how many grams of meth a box of pills will make.
Judge Carter said Sudafed is the key ingredient of methamphetamine. Other ingredients can be substituted, but nothing can be substituted for the Sudafed.